Sight Words!!! (Assessment, Activities, Ideas, & FREEBIES!)

Hello friends!  

I'm happy to say that after 5 weeks of traveling, I'm finally home and settled for a while!!  I absolutely love getting to meet so many amazing teachers all over the U.S.  It's definitely been the highlight of my year.  Just this past week I had the opportunity to travel to Wichita, KS and work with some of the sweetest, kindest Kindergarten teachers.  And let me tell y'all...they had some GREAT ideas!!!!  

One of my sessions covered sight words...mainly quick and easy sight word centers and activities to implement into the classroom for immediate practice and review.  I usually get a lot of questions about how I assess sight words in Kindergarten and how many words my kids are expected to know by the end of the school year in this particular session.  I think I can safely say that this is one expectation that varies GREATLY state-to-state, district-to-disttrict, school-to-school.

I'll go ahead and break down how I assess sight words in my classroom. 

One of the girls on my campus created a wonderful checklist of all pre-primer through 3rd grade Dolch list sight words.  She then took those words and broke them down even further into 12 different lists each containing 20 words.   At the beginning of the year, I sent home sight word flashcards with each of my kids containing words from the first 2-3 lists (these were the easier sight words including color and number words as well).  

We encouraged our parents to work on 3-5 sight words at home with their child every week.  Of course, some kids were capable of retaining more...some weren't quite ready for quite that many every it was important to remind parents to take cues from their child to see what they were able to handle.  And just in case you're wondering, I taught in a Title 1 school.  I truly believe in raising and setting high expectations and BELIEVING every child is capable of doing BIG things.

Every Friday morning, right as the kids were coming into the classroom, I'd pull them one-by-one to my teacher table and go through their own checklist of words starting with list 1.  If they missed 3 words on that list, I'd stop the quick check and write those words in their weekly agenda.  They would take their agendas home with those words so that their parents would know what words to practice at home the following week.  I would also have them bring up their personal word walls.  These were just word walls kept in a file folder that were different for every student.  If they were able to read the words on the list, I would write the word on their personal word wall.  (I wrote them so that they were legible :) I would tell my kids that I expected them to be able to write the words correctly if they could read them and if they got stuck, they would have a personal resource at their fingertips and they could use it ANY time!  

If you're interested in giving your kids their own word walls, just click on the pic for a FREE download!

Each time they mastered a list (20 sight words), they'd get a little prize or incentive.  When they mastered the first 6 lists, I would buy them a drink/slush/shake from Sonic.  When they mastered all 12 lists (all pre-primer through 3rd grade Dolch lists!!!) I'd buy them a pizza from Pizza Hut and have a lunch date with them.  Out of the 19 kids I had last year, I had about 11-12 who knew all 12 sight word lists by heart by the end of the year.  The other 5-6 kids knew at least the first 5 lists and I might have had 1 or 2 who were still diligently working their way through list 4.  They all did such an AMAZING job and worked SO hard to learn and read their sight words!

In addition to our weekly sight word assessments, I also had a sight word center in my classroom.  While we were constantly working on sight words in various centers throughout the classroom (poetry, reading, writing), I had one specifically set-up with lots of different sight word activities from which my kids could choose.  It was a great little center because it was easy to differentiate for each of my kids depending on their independent lists.

One of the activities my kids loved was our Sight Wordles...

Each of my kids had their very own sight word rings they kept in a plastic bag in their desk.  They could take their rings to the sight word center and use them to find words in the wordle that they knew or I might prompt them to find the words they NEED to know.  It just depended on the student and the objective.  If you want to know more about how I used this center in my classroom, or learn how to make your own Sight Wordle, just click on the pic above for more info.

Another activity my kids adored were our Hide & Seek Sight Words.  

These were super easy to create.  I just took strips of construction paper and wrote sight words on them using a white crayon.  I'd place them in a basket along with a sight word checklist (in a dry erase sleeve) and then the kids would use markers to make the words appear and an expo to cross the words off of the list.  As the year progressed, I would make 1-2 of my friends responsible for creating this activity for the center.  They LOVED this and it freed me up to make different things!!!!

Here's another activity I kept in the sight word center.  This one was great for partner play...
Tic, Tac, Toe!

First you'll need to create a set of sight word cards that will fit into a 3 column, 3 row table.  I created mine in Power Point, however you could easily create yours using paper, a ruler, and small index cards!!!  Just make sure to laminate the table or place it in a dry erase sleeve.  Each card has a different sight word printed on it.  To start play, both players will need an expo marker.  Without looking, players will take 9 of the sight word cards from the deck and place them face down on the tic tac toe board.  Players can toss a coin or roll a die to determine who goes first.  Player 1 turns over a card on the board.  If he can read the word, he will place either an "X" or an "O" in the box on the board and then remove the card.  If he cannot read the word, the card returns back to the board face down.  Player 2 will do the same.  Turn over a card and read the word.  If he can read it, he places his "X" or "O" on the board, and if he can't, the card returns to the board face down.  The first player to get a tic tac toe, wins!  My kids LOVE this game!!!!! 

Here's a FREEBIE for you.  This is just a little sample of our Roll a Word.  This was one of our interactive word wall activities, but this also doubled as a fun sight word center to give my kids lots of practice not only with their sight words, but utilizing the word wall as well.

We do a lot of whole group activities with sight words as well. I like to fit in review and practice as often as I can.  My kids LOVE our sight word ring of chants and cheers.  They're ALWAYS asking for these!!!!  
These chants and cheers are really nothing new to the teaching world.  They've probably been around longer than I've been alive ;)  I just printed them out, laminated them, hole punched them in the top corner, and then placed them on a binder ring.  I keep the ring on a command hook on a shelf in the middle of my classroom for easy access.  The chants and cheers are great for transitions, snack time, whole group activities, and incentives, too!

There have been several teachers asking for my copy of the sight word chants and cheers at the last few conferences and I told them I lost the file.  Well praise the Lord...I found it!!!!  YAY!!!!!  And I updated the fonts and clipart so that you could have a copy, too!!!  Just click on the picture below to take you to the FREE download.

Another whole group activity we love is Ready, Aim, FIRE!!!!  

You can find out how to play this game HERE.  I wrote all about it a few months ago, but sometimes it's great to bring things back up for a little refresher!  

You may have seen this little post about the "make your own sight word songs", but just in case you haven't, this is something else I love doing with my kids.  As you can see, it doesn't take a creative genius to come up with these simple, catchy tunes.  However, the kids love them and when they get stuck remembering how to read or write a sight word, all I have to do is hum the tune of the matching song and 9 times out of 10 they can make the connection and remember the word in question.

Whew!!!  I hope that covered what I promised to cover!  Hopefully the freebies and games will work for you and your class.  I feel like consistency and high expectations is the key to a good sight word instruction.  Giving kids multiple exposures to words and opportunities to manipulate, read, and search for these words is so important.  If we expect them to learn, we have to provide the tools and the instruction to get them where we want them to be.  Of course, it's wonderful when parents value this instruction as much as we do and practice sight words at home, but we all know that we don't live in a perfect world.  It's MY job to make sure my kids get what they need and anything above that is a bonus!!  As you can see from the examples above, I absolutely love any kind of activity that's hands-on and meaningful.  We learn best when we're having fun and fun activities result in lasting memories.  When kids are making those kind of lasting memories, they can easily make connections as well.  

If you'd like to share some ideas, or link back to any sight word ideas you've posted about on your blog, just leave a little comment!  I'd love to add more ideas and activities to my ever growing collection!!!  

In the meantime, if you're looking to build not only your bank of ideas, but your bank of resources as well, TpT is having a sitewide sale today and it ends at midnight!!!  Just use the code HEROES at checkout to take an additional 10% off of your purchase.  Everything in my little store is discounted 20%, so you can find many of these resources for an almost 30% savings!

If you liked the Roll a Word freebie included in this post, you can find more activities like that in this little packet of fun. Great for sight words and incorporating more interactive use out of your word wall.

Here's a little sight word packet I incorporated into the classroom a few years ago.  It includes games, center activities, ideas, and printables.  

I just uploaded my March Work on Writing packet...

...and by request, my Coin Flip Strips are finally up and ready for download!  Sorry that took so long!


  1. You are incredible and are still inspiring to me to this very day! Love you!

  2. Sending this post to Emmie's teacher immediately!!!!

  3. This is just what I needed right now! Thank you for all of your amazing ideas Cara!!

  4. Cara!!! We must be on the same wave length right now! Sight Words are something that I have become very passionate about over the last year. I completely agree with you when you say that high expectations are a necessity! I created a product very similar to your co-workers by dividing words into lists and having the students learn them at their own pace. I have seen such success in my own classroom! My kids are completely motivated to learn as many sight words as they can!
    Thanks so much for your other sight word ideas! I am definitely going to put some to use in my classroom!
    Chalkboard Charm

  5. Thank you for putting all these amazing ideas in ONE place - I had to keep stopping so I could pin for rereading :) I really appreciate all your work! Jen

  6. Pretty sure I pinned every picture so that I can remember to do it ALL!

    For the Love of First Grade

  7. Thank you for sharing for ways to work with words!!! Wish I could have heard you at SDE. Off topic--is your header missing on your website or do I have a computer issue?

  8. Thank you so much for sharing some of your sight word ideas! We are working really hard on our sight words right now, so this post could not have come at a more perfect time! You mentioned you write three words they are still working on in their weekly agenda. I love the idea of parents being involved and helping from home, so I was wondering what your weekly agenda looked like and what else you put on it?

    Thanks again for another inspiring post!

  9. When employees are okay, so is everything else, including their relationships and communications at workplace. Good and fun team building activities for work help in developing a better work environment for the employees.

  10. Question: You mentioned in your sight word post that your kinders take home the words they need to practice in their weekly agenda. Just curious what this looks like in your room. Thanks for your great posts....LOVE LOVE everything you do! :)

  11. I love all the freebies your are offering here and I would love to use them in my classroom, however some of the links are not working! I LOVE LOVE these ideas and can't wait to adapt them into my classroom.

  12. Hello! Love all of these ideas. I can't wait to use them next year! I have one question, what is their weekly agenda? Is this something that goes home with them each week in their folder? I would love to see it. Thank you so much!